A SLICK and relentless Sandhurst warmed up for a top-of-the-table clash against Kangaroo Flat next Saturday by disposing of South Bendigo at the QEO on Saturday.
The Dragons, playing without star defender Imogen Sexton and experienced goal attack Kelsey Meade, convincingly defeated the Bloods 59-30.
It was their second 29-plus goal victory this season over a premiership aspirant, after defeating Gisborne by 33-goals in round one.
In between, the Dragons beat Strathfieldsaye by 44-goals, ensuring their round four clash against Kangaroo Flat will be a showdown between the league's only two undefeated teams.
Sandhurst, led by a standout game by Ruby Turner at goal keeper, were able to capitalise on a jittery start by the Bloods to build up an impressive 10-goal lead on the back of a 14-4 first quarter.
The Dragons managed to increase their lead at every change before saving their best for last with an 18-6 final term to cement a big win.
Three-time premiership coach Tamara Gilchrist said her side was able to set the tone for the match early.
"We had control from the first quarter basically. They had a few early errors, some missed passes, and we got a couple of intercepts and managed to score from the turnovers," she said.
"But most pleasingly, we were able to hold them out and it really just went from there.
"The girls are really playing well ... it was a 29-goal win, but as a coach, the positive I take out of it is that we had a good performance, but we certainly didn't play our best.
"Individually, a few of the girls were really hard on themselves and weren't happy with their own performance and were thinking, what can I do to improve for next week.
"As a coach, I'm really lucky I have a team that feels that way."
Equally as pleasing for Gilchrist, with Sexton and Meade unavailable due to previous commitments, was the efforts of their young replacements.
Holly Lockhart was unflappable at goal attack, while Darcy Williams - the younger sister of Dragons skipper Meg - excelled at wing defence across the first three quarters before making way for another rising star in Isi Shoebridge in the final term.
A strong showing from Williams was made even more impressive by the fact she played a full game in A-reserve before the main game, while Shoebridge made her A-grade debut.
Gilchrist said it was proud moment having the two sets of sisters - Meg and Darcy Williams and Sophie and Isi Shoebridge - take the court in the one side.
"We actually had Charlotte Sexton sitting on the bench, so if we had Imogen, we would have three sets of sisters in an A-grade team, which is major," she said.
"But it was a really nice day for the two families and great for the club.
"It was a great experience for the young girls and the rest of the girls really supported them and got around them."
In the absence of Imogen Sexton, Turner assumed the role at goal keeper and responded with a best on court effort.
"She has really started the season well and she was really confident down there playing against Chloe Langley," Gilchrist said.
"They obviously know each other well and match up well for height, but Ruby's effort was awesome."
The Dragons will regain both of their missing premiership stars for next Saturday's encounter against Kangaroo Flat, which was the only team to defeat the Dragons in last year's abbreviated season.
South Bendigo (2-1) will look to regroup ahead of a danger game against Kyneton, which will be buoyed by its first win of the season on Saturday over Strathfieldsaye 40-30.
The Bloods have fared well against most rivals over the past three seasons, but have struggled to find a way past big guns Sandhurst, Gisborne and Kangaroo Flat.
They will get another chance to break that hoodoo against Gisborne in round six (May 14).
In other games, Gisborne moved to 2-1 by inflicting Castlemaine's first loss of the season 43-34; Maryborough broke through for its first win with a 41-28 victory over Golden Square; Kangaroo Flat continued its rampant start to the season with an 80-22 win over Eaglehawk.
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